Government Whistleblowers

Where do federal employees go to appeal a suspension or report on-the-job retaliation for exposing mismanagement?  Nowhere lately.

Yet this week, Congress will try to address the problem.

MSPB logoThe Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Wednesday will once again consider nominees to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), while the House Committee on Oversight and Reform will hold a hearing to discuss the issue on Thursday. That three-person board, which hears appeals of lower level personnel decisions, has only one member at the moment.

The Board hears whistleblower cases and is the backstop for maintaining a non-partisan, professional civil service as the sole enforcement body on many cases. It has not had a quorum since just before President Trump took office. The MSPB needs a quorum of two to act. The term of the single sitting member, Mark A. Robbins, is scheduled to end on February 28.

A February 8 Washington Post column about unfilled political position mentions the MSPB. The White House did send nominees to the Senate, writes Joe Davidson. More here from the Post.  Continue Reading Another try to confirm MSPB board nominees. Then, on to a 2,000 case backlog.

National Whistleblower Center (NWC), as a member organization of the Workplace Sexual Harassment Coalition, has signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to support the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act (H.R. 4924) which passed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support last month. The Act, which seeks to improve workplace protections for Congressional staff, has gained broad public support due to the #MeToo movement.

Continue Reading National Whistleblower Center Continues Support of #MeToo Legislation

In a memo dated January 29, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed Department of Justice (DOJ) heads to not communicate with “senators, representatives, congressional committees, or congressional staff” without first consulting with the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA).

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a long-time advocate for whistleblower rights, has expressed his concern regarding the legality of the Attorney Sessions’ memo. In his response letter, Grassley writes that the memo “does not appear to comply with existing law.” In particular, it infringes on the rights of DOJ employees to “make protected disclosures directly to Congress.”

Continue Reading Sessions’ Memo To DOJ Threatens Whistleblower Rights

Renowned Oversight Expert Criticizes Interference with Russia InvestigationIn an op-ed for The Hill, former National Whistleblower Center (NWC) executive director and widely regarded oversight expert Kris Kolesnik takes members of Congress to task for blurring the lines between campaigning and governing.

Kolesnik, also a former high-level staffer for Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), states, “people who come to Congress need to understand that, once you get here, you’re obliged to govern. The campaigning is over.” Given Kolesnik’s record, when he speaks on important oversight issues, all should listen.

Continue Reading Renowned Oversight Expert Criticizes Interference with Russia Investigation

The National Whistleblower Center, as a member of the Workplace Sexual Harassment Coalition, has signed a letter to the House of Representatives with a set of recommendations for the bipartisan bill, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act. In the midst of the #MeToo movement, the bill aims to improve the workplace environment for Congressional staff.

Continue Reading The National Whistleblower Center Supports #MeToo Legislation

All around the nation, hundreds of thousands of federal employees did not report to work today because of the federal government shutdown. Military families will not receive death benefits, active duty soldiers will not be paid, and the aggregate effects of a shutdown are expected to cost the American economy about $1 billion per day.

Continue Reading Federal Whistleblowers Have Faced Government Shutdown on Justice For Over a Year

Dissenting judges decry “denial of due process” for FBI whistleblowers.

October 26, 2017. Washington, D.C.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled against veterans who are employed at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and are fired for blowing the whistle. The case is known as Parkinson v. Department of Justice.  In a major setback for veterans and whistleblowers at the FBI, the majority opinion held that FBI employees like John Parkinson, who have rights to challenge a termination from the FBI before the Merit Systems Protection Board cannot raise whistleblowing as an affirmative defense before the MSPB as other employees are permitted to do. Continue Reading Appeals Court Ruling a Setback for Veterans and Whistleblowers at the FBI

June 23, 2017. Washington, D.C. Today President Trump signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act into law.

The law aims to protect whistleblowers from retaliation and reprisal and will require training of all VA employees about whistleblower protections. The Veterans Affairs (VA) Whistleblower Office  created by President Trump in April becomes permanent under the new law.

Continue Reading VA Whistleblower Protections Signed into Law; Don’t Go Far Enough

May 9, 2017. Washington, D.C.  Congressional oversight leaders obtained an internal memo sent, on May 3, from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) instructing employees to inform the agency before communicating independently with Congress.

Continue Reading Congressional Leaders Call on HHS Secretary to Clarify Employees’ Free Speech Rights